Reflective Journal Week 23, 1 Mar – 7 Mar 2020

Some thoughts from 2nd Feb’s seminar given by Mr Mark Fairninton were finally organised.

Subjective Manipulation

Subjective Manipulation is the process of over-lay the painkter’s own ideas/understanding/emotional recognition on the model; generally it is a quite private process in which the artist may demonstrate the wildest processes that not ready to be displayed publicly. The description explained the latter statement of “painting a subject is also self-portraiting” as well as Bacon’s behaviour of painting photographed models. 

The term Subjective Manipulation was straightly translated from Chinese, which was originally referring to a drawing technique. It was widely introduced to students who receive training in art. It basically means adding adjustments during life drawing, and by which twisted postures that looked unnatural on paper, or the complexity of the posture beyond the painter’s skill could be delivered easily. It was a material and technical way of the term. Essentially, it is also the relocation to the painter’s comfort zone where he/she could deliver the subjective satisfying result to audiences. 

Subjective Manipulation, according to the statement made in the first paragraph, is private. The adjective could be used in the Chinese situation; however, it is not precise sufficiently. Within the materialistic value that generally adopted by Chinese, incapable of producing the life- drawing model is a sign of one’s lack of necessary skills. In contemporary China, the skill of producing a realistic figure is the only artistic quality regarded by art academies’ entrance requirements. Therefore, performed subjective manipulation, if noticed, is considered awkward. As remaining in the comfort zone without pushing ideas and theories forward is generally considered a lack of necessary qualities in the Western world of art. 

“Francis Bacon’s statement declared he project his ideas onto painting instead of, like in contemporary time, mostly we use an over-loaded verbal description.”

“Everything we said is printed and stuck next to painting.”

“Both before and after the finish of work descriptions articulated by the artist are equally important…People find a way to talk about work to find fits they want it to be…It is an efficient way for introduction and a brick on the path to professionals.”

I was advised to use Tate Research to collect information. Regarding the previous version of the proposal, another advice was to find “How Cole and other painters from the Hudson River School helped to define a nation”. The essential principle of this question clearly has the potential to, quoting Professor Velios’s email in early Feb, “imagine the future”. 

The One Day show this week, despite the fact that I was rearranged in the next week’s group, some useful information were still obtained from a briefed crit. 

Mr Dan Howart-Birt provided me with a list of Cornish artists I can look into. 

Lucy Stein, Stephen Claydon, Sadie Coles, Geoffrey Harris, Andy Harper, Abigail Reynold, Nina Royle, Helster, Ben Sanderson, Simon Boyliss, Finlay Abbott Ellwood, Kurt Jackson.

The work I created for this tiny exhibition, The Mirror of Marazion was a 45 cm * 18 cm watercolour painting. It pictures the Longrock beach at the low tide when wet sands reflect the skyscape. I have no enough data to prove that this is “the scene that only Cornish understand”. But to my understanding, it is a very symbolic scene of Penwith landscape. This painting should be classified as the idealised landscape in outside visitor’s perspective. It was the documentation of a vacant moment when the painter’s only task is to observe and memorise. 

I really enjoyed piling up layers of different materials. Pencil and charcoal, watercolour, colour pencil, gouache, then a layer of watercolour vanisher to create a reflective surface and fix everything underneath. Watercolour painting usually looks flat, soft and transparent. But I prefer to create a mixture of ingredients with different qualities to support the varied characteristics of objects in my painting. 

Additionally, I found some useful references; they are direct quotations from various books. It can be found below as a downloadable PDF file. 

Exhibition Monochromatic Minds at Candid Art Trust, Islington displayed many interesting paintings/prints made by various artists. I saw the possibility of overwhelming audiences with weirdly growing complex structures made by unpredictable stokes and potent contrast of black and white. 

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About cechenpaints

An artist, painter, illustrator based in London.